There is an unlikely combination in New Zealand politics that many people find hard to believe. One made more improbable by the ideological differences that they have. New Zealand First and the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand might . With 26 seats in Parliament and neither party having performed as well as they realistically could have at the last election, this combination has the potential to shape New Zealand politics in a way that to me as a third party supporter with no terribly high regard for National or Labour, is to put it mildly, interesting.
The similarity of their policies on several major issues suggests a working agreement is not unrealistic. One good example is that New Zealand First and the Greens both oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement for similar reasons, not least:
- an attack on internet freedom
- a likely hike in pharmaceutical prices
- the investor-state dispute settlement clauses which may give investors who think the state has short changed their chances of making a profit the right to sue
- potentially undermining for even forcing the scraping of legislation such as the Resource Management Act
New Zealand First and the Greens also both oppose the sale of state owned assets, and both have been quite public about it – my surprise therefore when talking to some staunch unionists at a state asset protest a couple of years ago was all the more understandable when I had to point out the primary causes of Winston Peters having such a high profile. They had commented that Mr Peters seemed socially conservative, which is true, but they clearly had not read much about New Zealand Firsts history – like how Mr Peters and a number of other Members of Parliament walked away from the coalition with National after the latter wanted to sell Wellington Airport.
Another example of where their policy platforms intersect is demonstrated by the opposition both have put up to Serco’s involvement in New Zealand prisons. This is perhaps the most surprising since Winston Peters is a socially conservative politician and New Zealand First has historically been in support of harder sentencing for prisoners, compulsory service or trades training for those who leave school early.
It is true that there are other areas where New Zealand First and the Greens part ways, such as on defence spending, local Government and our intelligence gathering arrangements with other nations. Ideologically the Greens are never going to be pro-military without tearing themselves apart. The older generation, more aligned perhaps with traditional values of family might well be put off by the more liberal stance on matters such as same sex, prostitution and so forth of the Green Party.
At this stage it is an informal thing that has not been agreed to by the Members of Parliament of either party, but I sincerely believe that Black-Green 2017 should be more than just an idea that the New Zealand youth wing supports.